1. Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park, California The water you see here is not part of a permanent lake. This is Death Valley, after all—North America’s hottest and driest spot. At 282 feet below sea level Badwater Basin is also the lowest point on the continent. On the rare occasions that rain falls here, it accumulates over portions of the 200-square-mile salt flats. The rainwater dissolves some of the salts on the ground, then dries up, and quickly. In fact, the area is believed to have the ‘greatest evaporative potential in the United States.’ Rainwater doesn’t stand a chance, and as it vanishes, it re-deposits salt crystals in its wake.

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